Classification Targets¶
In this section we will outline the functionality that this package provides in order to work with classification targets. We will start by discussion the terms we use and how they are used in the context of this package.
Terms and Definitions¶
In a classification setting one usually treats the desired output variable (also called ground truths, or targets) as a discrete categorical variable. That is true even if the values themself are of numerical type, which they often are for practical reasons.
We use the term targets when we talk about concrete data. Concretely, targets are the desired output of some dataset and further themself also part of the dataset. If a dataset includes targets we call it labeled data. In a labeled dataset, each observation has its own target. Thus we have as many targets as we have observations, as the target is treated as a part of each observation.
Tip
Let us look at an example of what targets could look like and how they relate to some dataset, or in this case data subset. The following code snipped loads the first 3 observations of the iris dataset using the RDatasets package.
julia> using RDatasets
julia> iris = head(dataset("datasets", "iris"), 3)
3×5 DataFrames.DataFrame
│ Row │ SepalLength │ SepalWidth │ PetalLength │ PetalWidth │ Species │
├─────┼─────────────┼────────────┼─────────────┼────────────┼──────────┤
│ 1 │ 5.1 │ 3.5 │ 1.4 │ 0.2 │ "setosa" │
│ 2 │ 4.9 │ 3.0 │ 1.4 │ 0.2 │ "setosa" │
│ 3 │ 4.7 │ 3.2 │ 1.3 │ 0.2 │ "setosa" │
For this data subset the targets would be
["setosa","setosa","setosa"]
.
Note how only one of the three available classes of the dataset
is represented here.
The term “target” itself applies for both regression and classification scenarios. In a classification setting (which is the domain that this package operates in) the targets are treated as a discrete categorical variable. If the classification targets can just take one of two values, we call the classification problem binary, or twoclass.
For our purposes we treat the term “class” as an abstract concept with little to no practical appearance in the functionality provided by this package. In essence we think about a class as the abstract interpretation behind some concrete value. For example: Let’s say we try to predict if a tumor is malignant or benign. The two classes could then be described as “malignant tumor” and “benign tumor”. One could argue that we could translate these abstract concepts into a string or symbol quite easily and thus make it concrete, but that is not the point. The point is, that the concrete interpretation behind the prediction targets is of little consequence for the library and as such it should not talk about it.
Instead, this library cares about representation. The representation can vary a lot between one model to another, while the “class” remains the same. For example, some models require the targets in the form of numbers in the set \(\{1,0\}\), other in \(\{1,1\}\) etc.
We call a concrete and consistent representation of a single class a label. That implies that each class should consistently be represented by a single label respectively. How a label looks like is completely up to the user, but there are some forms that are more common than others. A convention of what labels to use to represent a fixed number of classes will be referred to as a labelencoding, or short encoding.
Note
To be fair, the term “classencoding” would be more appropriate. However, when considering that we need to use the defined terms for naming the functions and types, it seemed more reasonable (and userfriendly) to keep the list of utilized domainspecific words small and consistent.
Determine the Labels¶
Now that we settled on the terminology, let us investigate what kind of functionality this package provides to work with classification targets. The first thing we may be interested in is determining what kind of labels we are working with when presented with some targets.
In general we try to make little assumptions about the type of
the object containing the targets, just that it supports unique
.
The functions listed here do, however, expect the object containing
the targets to include all possible labels of the classification
scenario.

label
(iter) → Vector¶ Returns the labels represented in the given iterator iter. Note that the order of the resulting labels matters in general, because other functions expect the first label to denote the positive label for binary classification problems. Thus, for consistency reason there are some heuristics involved that try to guarantee this for the commons encodings.
Parameters: iter (Any) – Any object for which the type either implements the iterator interface, or which provides a custom implementation for unique
.Returns: The unique labels in the form of a vector. In the case of two labels, the first element will represent the positive label and the second element the negative label respectively.
julia> label([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
3element Array{Symbol,1}:
:yes
:no
:maybe
julia> label([1,1,1,1,1])
2element Array{Int64,1}:
1
1
As described above, we may mutate the order of the result of
unique
for consistency reasons in those cases that they describe
a common binary labelencoding. The reason for this is that we want
the first element to denote the positive label.
The following example highlights the different results for
unique
and label()
in the case of targets in “zeroone” form.
julia> unique([0,1,0,0,1])
2element Array{Int64,1}:
0
1
julia> label([0,1,0,0,1])
2element Array{Int64,1}:
1
0
While the generic iterator implementation covers most cases, we
do selectively treat some iterators (such as Dict
),
differently, or even disallow some completely (such as any
AbstractArray
that has more than two dimensions).

label
(dict) → Vector Returns the keys of the dictionary in the form of a vector. The reasoning behind this convention for how to interpret the content of a Dict is that we utilize dictionaries to store labelspecific information, such as the classfrequency (see
labelfreq()
).Note again, that for consistency reasons there are heuristics in place that try to enforce the correct labelorder for numeric labelvectors that have exactly two elements.
Parameters: dict (Dict) – Any julia dictionary. Returns: The unique labels in the form of a vector. In the case of two labels, the first element will represent the positive label and the second element the negative label respectively.
We also treat matrices in a special way. The reason for this is that for our purposes it is not their values that encode the information about the labels, but their structure.

label
(mat[, obsdim]) → Vector Returns a vector that enumerates the dimension of the given matrix mat that does not denote the observations. In other words it returns the indices of that dimension.
Parameters:  mat (AbstractMatrix) – An numeric array that is assumed to be in the form of a onehot encoding or similar.
 obsdim (ObsDimension) – Optional. Denotes which of the two
array dimensions of mat denotes the observations. It
can be specified as a typestable positional argument or
a smart keyword (Note: for this method the returnvalue
will typestable either way). Defaults to
Obsdim.Last()
. see?ObsDim
for more information.
Returns: A vector of indices that enumerate the particular dimension of mat that does not denote the observations.
julia> label([0 1 0 0; 1 0 1 0; 0 0 0 1])
3element Array{Int64,1}:
1
2
3
julia> label([0 1 0; 1 0 0; 0 1 0; 0 0 1], obsdim = 1)
3element Array{Int64,1}:
1
2
3
julia> label([0 1 0; 1 0 0; 0 1 0; 0 0 1], ObsDim.First()) # positional obsdim
3element Array{Int64,1}:
1
2
3
For convenience one can also just query for the label that
corresponds to the positive class or the negative class respectively.
These helper functions check if the given targets contain exactly two
unique labels and will throw an ArgumentError
if this assumption
is violated.

poslabel
(iter) → eltype(iter)¶ If
label()
returns a vector of length = 2, then this function will return the first element of it, which denotes the positive label. Otherwise an error will be thrown.
julia> poslabel([1,1,1,1,1])
1
julia> poslabel([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
ERROR: ArgumentError: The given object has more or less than two labels, thus poslabel is not defined.

neglabel
(iter) → eltype(iter)¶ If
label()
returns a vector of length = 2, then this function will return the second element of it, which denotes the negative label. Otherwise an error will be thrown.
julia> neglabel([1,1,1,1,1])
1
julia> neglabel([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
ERROR: ArgumentError: The given object has more or less than two labels, thus neglabel is not defined.
Number of Labels¶
We can compute the number of unique labels using nlabel()
.
It works by first computing the labels and then counting them.
As such it has the same restrictions as label()
.

nlabel
(iter) → Int¶ Returns the number of labels represented in the given iterator iter. It uses the function
label()
internally, so the same properties and restrictions apply.Parameters: iter (Any) – Any object for which the function label()
is implemented.
julia> nlabel([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
3
julia> nlabel([1,1,1,1,1])
2
Mapping Labels to Observations¶
In many classification scenarios we have to deal with what is called an imbalanced class distribution. In essence that means that some classes are represented more often in a given dataset than the other classes. While we won’t go into detail about the implications of such a scenario, the key takeaway is that there exist strategies to deal with those situations by using information about how the classlabel are distributed. More importantly even, some require a mapping from each label to all the observations that have that label as target. We call such a mapping from labels to observationindices a labelmap.

labelmap
(iter) → Dict¶ Computes a mapping from the labels in iter to all the individual elementindices in iter that correspond to that label. Note that there is actually no check or requirement that iter must implement length or getindex. Instead, it is assumed that the first element of the iterator has the index
1
and the indices are incremented by1
with each element of the iterator.Parameters: iter (Any) – Any object for which the type implements the iterator interface Returns: A dictionary that for each label as key, has a vector as value that contains all indices of the observations that observed that label.
julia> labelmap([0, 1, 1, 0, 0])
Dict{Int64,Array{Int64,1}} with 2 entries:
0 => [1,4,5]
1 => [2,3]
julia> labelmap([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
Dict{Symbol,Array{Int64,1}} with 3 entries:
:yes => [1,5]
:maybe => [4]
:no => [2,3,6]
We also provide a mutating version to update an existing labelmap. In those cases we also have to specify the index/indices of that new observation(s).

labelmap!
(dict, idx, elem) → Dict¶ Updates the given labelmap dict with the new element elem, which is assumed to be associated with the index idx. Note that the given index is not checked for being a duplicate.
Parameters:  dict (Dict) – The dictionary that may or may not already contain existing labelmapping. It will be updated with the new element.
 idx (Int) – The observationindex that elem corresponds to in the context of the overall dataset.
 elem (Any) – The new target of the observation denoted by idx. It is expected to be in the form of a label.
Returns: Returns the mutated dict for convenience.
julia> lm = labelmap([0, 1, 1, 0, 0])
Dict{Int64,Array{Int64,1}} with 2 entries:
0 => [1,4,5]
1 => [2,3]
julia> labelmap!(lm, 6, 0)
Dict{Int64,Array{Int64,1}} with 2 entries:
0 => [1,4,5,6]
1 => [2,3]

labelmap!
(dict, indices, iter) → Dict Updates the given labelmap dict with the new elements in the given iterator iter. Each element in iter is assumed to be associated with the corresponding index in indices. This implies that both, iter and indices, must provide the same amount of elements. Note that the given indices are not checked for being duplicates.
Parameters:  dict (Dict) – The dictionary that may or may not already contain existing labelmapping. It will be updated with the new elements in iter.
 indices (AbstractVector{Int}) – The indices for each element in iter.
 iter (Any) – Any object for which the type implements the iterator interface.
Returns: Returns the mutated dict for convenience.
julia> lm = labelmap([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
Dict{Symbol,Array{Int64,1}} with 3 entries:
:yes => [1,5]
:maybe => [4]
:no => [2,3,6]
julia> labelmap!(lm, 7:8, [:no,:maybe])
Dict{Symbol,Array{Int64,1}} with 3 entries:
:yes => [1,5]
:maybe => [4,8]
:no => [2,3,6,7]
There also is a convenience function to reverse a labelmap into a label vector.

labelmap2vec
(dict) → Vector¶
Computes an Vector of labels by elementwise traversal of the entries in dict.
param Dict{T, Int} dict: A labelmap with labels of type T. return: Vector{T} of labels.
julia> labelvec = [:yes,:no,:no,:yes,:yes]
julia> lm = labelmap(labelvec)
Dict{Symbol,Array{Int64,1}} with 2 entries:
:yes => [1, 4, 5]
:no => [2, 3]
julia> labelmap2vec(lm)
5element Array{Symbol,1}:
:yes
:no
:no
:yes
:yes
Frequency of Labels¶
Another useful information to compute is the absolute frequency of
each label in the dataset of interest. In contrast to labelmap()
,
this function does not care about indices but instead simply counts
occurrences. We call such a dictionary a frequencymap.

labelfreq
(iter) → Dict¶ Computes the absolute frequencies for each label in iter and adds it as a key (label) value (count) pair to the resulting dictionary.
Parameters: iter (Any) – Any object for which the type implements the iterator interface Returns: A dictionary that for each label as key, has an Int as value that denotes how often the corresponding label was encountered in iter
julia> labelfreq([0, 1, 1, 0, 0])
Dict{Int64,Int64} with 2 entries:
0 => 3
1 => 2
julia> labelfreq([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
Dict{Symbol,Int64} with 3 entries:
:yes => 2
:maybe => 1
:no => 3
If you have already created a mapping using labelmap()
, then you
can reuse that dictionary to compute the frequencies more efficiently.

labelfreq
(dict) → Dict Converts a labelmap to a frequency map by counting the number of indices associated with each label.
Parameters: dict (Dict) – A dictionary produced by labelmap()
.Returns: A dictionary that for each label as key, has an Int as value that denotes how many indices were stored in dict for the corresponding label.
julia> lm = labelmap([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
Dict{Symbol,Array{Int64,1}} with 3 entries:
:yes => [1,5]
:maybe => [4]
:no => [2,3,6]
julia> labelfreq(lm)
Dict{Symbol,Int64} with 3 entries:
:yes => 2
:maybe => 1
:no => 3
For some data sources it may not be useful or even possible to associate an observation with an index (e.g. streaming data). For such cases it may still prove useful to continuously keep track of the number of times each label was encountered. To that end we provide a mutating version that updates a frequencymap inplace.

labelfreq!
(dict, iter) → Dict¶ Updates the given frequencymap dict with the number of times each label occurs in the given iterator iter. Note that these occurances are added to the current values.
Parameters:  dict (Dict) – The dictionary that may or may not already contain existing frequency information. It will be updated with the new elements in iter.
 iter (Any) – Any object for which the type implements the iterator interface.
Returns: Returns the mutated dict for convenience.
julia> lf = labelfreq([:yes,:no,:no,:maybe,:yes,:no])
Dict{Symbol,Int64} with 3 entries:
:yes => 2
:maybe => 1
:no => 3
julia> labelfreq!(lf, [:no,:maybe])
Dict{Symbol,Int64} with 3 entries:
:yes => 2
:maybe => 2
:no => 4